How one EA stepped up in the wellbeing area

ou may remember Scott Giles, EA to the CEO at Southampton Football Club, from a recent PA Profile. As a fellow PA you’ll know so much can change so quickly and Scott has certainly proved it…

Literally a few days after my Executive PA Magazine article was published, our CEO left suddenly – and wasn’t replaced. Thankfully, though, I was told that I wasn’t surplus to numbers and they’d find me something exciting to get my teeth into.

As such, health and wellbeing has been added to my remit and a lot has happened since. Fortunately, it’s something I’m really passionate about and sport has always been a huge part of my life – whilst in the Navy I was always a sports rep and at British American Tobacco I managed the work football team, too.

Straight away, I contacted the large sports PA network I’m part of and asked for advice – the responses I got showed what a huge topic it is at the moment. A recent staff survey highlighted its importance too – we didn’t even have facilities for staff to shower after exercise, for example.

So, our next staff meeting (with 350 employees) was purely on the topic of health and wellbeing and came complete with interactive stations around nutrition and exercise (demonstrating simple resistance band exercises to do at a desk), mindfulness and health checks. We also had Geoff Thomas, an ex-professional footballer, speak about his battle with leukaemia and the amazing charity work he does. The meeting was a great success.

Now, weekly spin, boxercise, pilates and circuits sessions are available and staff have even climbed our stadium steps. Our Executive Board and Senior Management Team are fully supportive, taking part and encouraging others to do so, too.

A few months in, the new initiatives have gained momentum and we’re getting around 65 participants each week. Now, it’s a case of continuing to improve – I haven’t given as much time as I’d have liked to the wellbeing element so the next step is to increase my knowledge in the area and put some of the ideas requested by staff into practice.

It’s a work in progress but, from where we were just a couple of months ago, the Club has made massive strides forward.

And, in terms of how it’s developed me, health and wellbeing has become a massive part of my role – I thought it’d be about 20 per cent, but it’s nearer 70 per cent. As a result, I’ve learned lots of new ‘stuff’ which is great for my development.

I’m now executive assistant and health & wellbeing co-ordinator, with my EA role seeing me assist the managing director. Fortunately, he’s incredibly self-sufficient so I can dedicate plenty time to the other part of the role. So, I still organise and minute board meetings, and look after VIP hospitality for home games. And it’s only when there’s a Friday board meeting followed by a home game at the weekend that longer hours are required. Match day remains the most enjoyable part of the role (provided we win!) so it rarely feels like extra work anyway.

On a personal level, I’m now far more active during the working day by getting away from my desk, plus I also take part in the classes each week.

Just as importantly, I now interact with a far larger percentage of staff and they’ve said exactly the same – not only are they getting fitter but they’re engaging with other employees they wouldn’t normally see.
For others in a similar position of managing a significant change in their remit, I’d say to make sure the new arrangement suits your career and development, seek the advice of others and enjoy it.